News & Events

Exploring the immunobiology of lung cancer in TRACERx

Article Date: 04.10.13
Category: Clinical Trials

Professor Gary Middleton and other CIIC colleagues are taking part in the largest clinical research study ever funded by Cancer Research UK – a multi-million pound project termed TRACERx, which will use cutting edge genetic techniques to throw light on how lung tumours develop.

The study, the brainchild of Professor Charlie Swanton based in University College London, aims to understand how lung tumours develop over space and time.

Lung cancer is a major clinical problem. It is the second most common cancer in the UK. To make matters worse, it is often diagnosed late, after the tumour has metastasized around the body, and also frequently develops resistance to current treatments.

TRACERx aims to follow the genetic events that take place during progression of the disease.

In collaboration with a consortium of groups across the country, Prof Swanton’s team will collect an unprecedented amount of DNA sequencing data to understand how genetic changes in the tumour relate to these events.

They will characterize patients’ tumours from diagnosis, through chemotherapy, and when it occurs, during disease resistance, to try to understand what genetic changes drive metastasis and drug resistance. A better understanding of these events should provide the basis for improved therapies for the disease.

One area of interest for new treatments is immunotherapy, and this is where Professor Middleton and other CIIC colleagues are involved – there are involved in analyzing the immunological events that take place in patients’ tumours, alongside the genetic changes that Professor Swanton will be studying. “New immunotherapies are emerging as exciting potential treatments for lung cancer,” commented Professor Middleton. “We think the success of such immunotherapies is probably critically linked to underlying genetic changes in the tumour. TRACERx provides a unique opportunity to understand in parallel the genetic and immunological events that are taking place, and we are delighted to be involved in the immunobiological arm of this very important study.”

To read Henry Scowcroft’s article about the TRACERx study, click here.

To watch Professor Charlie Swanton talk about TRACERx on youtube, click here.